The Force Awak­ens

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To say that Netflix’s Oc­cu­pied, a 10- episode po­lit­i­cal thriller, is more binge­wor­thy than a pro­gram about chop­ping wood might be set­ting the bar aw­fully low. But Na­tional Fire­wood Night, a 12-hour doc­u­men­tary that tack­les whether to stack split logs with the bark fac­ing up or down, got bet­ter ratings in Nor­way, where both shows were first broad­cast. For­tu­nately for us, Oc­cu­pied trans­lates bet­ter over here.

Set in and around Oslo, Oc­cu­pied takes place in a near fu­ture in which Nor­way has ceased drilling for oil and gas to pre­vent more loss of life and dam­age from cli­mate change. There’s a pass­ing ref­er­ence to a cat­a­strophic hur­ri­cane that pre­cip­i­tated this eco­com­mit­ment, but that back­story is mostly evoked in the open­ing credit mon­tage. Civil wars in the Mid­dle East have choked off oil sup­plies, and the Euro­pean Union, thrust into a fuel cri­sis, backs a Rus­sian plan to take over Nor­way’s for­mer petroleum in­dus­try. Fif­teen min­utes into the pilot, Jesper Berg, the Nor­we­gian prime min­is­ter, is taken hostage, and dur­ing a short he­li­copter ride he re­ceives an of­fer from Moscow he can’t refuse: Let us re­store North Sea oil pro­duc­tion to pre­vi­ous lev­els, and we’ll let you re­sume your al­ter­na­tive- en­ergy plans. Berg blinks.

If the premise seems a reach, Oc­cu­pied is so well-scripted and finely acted that it’s easy to sus­pend dis­be­lief. Our principals are Berg ( Hen­rik Mes­tad); his body­guard, Hans Martin Djupvik (El­dar Skar); an en­ter­pris­ing jour­nal­ist, Thomas Erik­sen ( Ve­gar Hoel); and Wenche Ar­ne­sen (Ragn­hild Gud­brand­sen), the terminally ill head of Nor­way’s ver­sion of the CIA. More far-fetched than the geopol­i­tics may be the de­gree to which the plot de­pends on Djupvik, who res­cues the prime min­is­ter, saves the Rus­sian am­bas­sador from as­sas­si­na­tion, and be­comes a dou­ble agent. And that’s all in the first three episodes.

Jo Nesbo, a mem­ber of the same class of Scan­di­na­vian noir writ­ers as Stieg Lars­son and Hen­ning Mankell, is cred­ited with the idea for Oc­cu­pied. You can think of the show as a lower-body- count 24 meets a higher-sub­ti­tle- count Man in the High Cas­tle, with el­e­ments of The Girl With the Dragon Tat­too.

It’s tempt­ing to place Oc­cu­pied within the grow­ing niche of “cli-fi,” or cli­mate fic­tion. Tho­rium power, Berg’s al­ter­na­tive- en­ergy so­lu­tion, is a real thing—aa form of nu­clear en­ergy that re­lies pri- mar­ily on thor­ite in­stead of en­riched ura­nium. (It’s safer, too; tho­rium re­ac­tors don’t melt down.) Yet with its porr trayal of an anti- Rus­sian re­sis­tance move­ment— Fritt Norge— and, in par­rtic­u­lar, a live-video as­sas­si­na­tion of a Rus­sian, Nesbo ap­pears more in­clined d to­ward an al­le­gory about Is­lamic State.e. Ap­pro­pri­at­ing its shock tac­tics, Oc­cu­pied seems on the verge of ask­ing dif­fi­cult ques­tions about when, or if, ter­ror­ism is jus­ti­fi­able as self- de­fense.

If Nesbo in­tends a deeper moral in­quiry, Oc­cu­pied doesn’t man­age it, but it does have charm. It’s eas­ily one of the best re­cent series for ogling mod­ern ar­chi­tec­ture. And the af­ter-hours di­ver­sion may well in­spire view­ers to lead crisper meetings. Th­ese Vik­ings get right to the point. Oc­cu­pied also af­firms that the cor­tado is the cof­fee bar or­der of the mo­ment on both sides of the At­lantic. You’ll need one, too, the morn­ing af­ter you’ve stayed up all night fin­ish­ing the series. <BW>


It takes 784,000

quar­ters to make $196,000,

a cal­cu­la­tion au­thor­i­ties had to do af­ter charg­ing a for­mer Brink’s

se­cu­rity guard with stealing that

amount of coin from the Fed­eral Re­serve Bank

of At­lanta. In­ter­net nerds are freak­ing out over a scene in

in which Leia hugs Rey, whom she’s never

met, but ig­nores Chewbacca af­ter— spoiler alert!— Han Solo, the Wook­iee’s best friend, is killed. Di­rec­tor J.J. Abrams sort of apol­o­gized,

say­ing the scene’s block­ing was “prob­a­bly”

a mis­take. Just when the fast-food chain thought it might be re­bound­ing from its strug­gles fol­low­ing E. coli and norovirus out­breaks, it had to tem­po­rar­ily shut down a lo­ca­tion out­side Bos­ton af­ter four em­ploy­ees got sick. In The Come­back, au­thor G. Bruce Knecht al­leges that Larry Ellison’s Or­a­cle Team USA won the Amer­ica’s Cup in 2013 us­ing an il­le­gal tech­nique called pump­ing— flap­ping the yacht’s “wing” to help it go faster. The team de­nies the charge.

Ear­lier this month, John Cook, the ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of Gawker Me­dia, was forced to live out the per­sonal night­mare of the mod­ern, groupchat­ting pro­fes­sional class. He had to ex­plain in open court why he and his staff had been mak­ing pe­nis jokes. “I would char­ac­ter­ize it as work­place hu­mor,” he’d said in a de­po­si­tion taped last year that was played in front of a jury and livestream­ed on­line.

Terry Gene Bol­lea, aka Hulk Ho­gan, is su­ing Gawker for $100 mil­lion over a video the site posted in 2012 fea­tur­ing the wrestler hav­ing sex with the wife of a friend. In­cluded in the ev­i­dence are more than 30 pages of Gawker con­ver­sa­tions from the work-chat plat­form Camp­fire, start­ing with “we’re about to post the Hulk Ho­gan sex tape” and de­volv­ing into jokes about whether Ho­gan’s pe­nis was “wear­ing a lit­tle do-rag” and a dis­cus­sion regarding the color and con­sis­tency of Ho­gan’s “pubes”—and that’s just two pages in.

Since that con­ver­sa­tion oc­curred, group chat has only be­come more preva­lent in of­fices, mostly be­cause it cuts down on e-mail. Camp­fire now has 100,000 daily ac­tive users; Slack has 2 mil­lion. (Gawker switched from Camp­fire to Slack in 2014.) An­other ser­vice called Hipchat says bil­lions of mes­sages have been sent us­ing its ser­vice.

Work­place chat is of­ten called a dig­i­tal wa­ter cooler, be­cause it’s where co-work­ers have in­for­mal con­ver­sa­tions at the of­fice—some­times about work, some­times not. “Our nor­mal work­place in­ter­ac­tions have moved to dig­i­tal en­vi­ron­ments and there­fore be­come per­ma­nent in ways that wa­ter cooler chat never was,” says Eric Gold­man, a pro­fes­sor of tech­nol­ogy law at Santa Clara Univer­sity School of Law.

The very na­ture of chat—its in­for­mal­ity and speed—makes gos­sip­ing and jok­ing easy. Slack has fea­tures that en­cour­age lev­ity, in­clud­ing a GIF gen­er­a­tor and cus­tom­iz­a­ble emoji. So now is a good time to re­mind any­one at work: Chat like ev­ery­one is watch­ing. “Any elec­tronic records that are rel­e­vant to a par­tic­u­lar claim are dis­cov­er­able in civil cases,” says Dori Han­swirth, the head of the me­dia lit­i­ga­tion prac­tice at Ho­gan Lovells. “There is no, ‘Well, I was just be­ing funny with my friendly co-work­ers’ ex­emp­tion. If it’s out there and get­table, there’s a chance that it will end up in the hands of some le­gal ad­ver­sary of your company.”

Mul­ti­ple lawyers had never heard of Slack, but their ad­vice is plat­for­mag­nos­tic: Never write any­thing—in any for­mat, to any­one—that you wouldn’t want to end up on the front page of the New York Times. “We all say things in the work­place that we don’t want re­peated,” Han­swirth says. “But there’s a level of dis­course that you may not want to have in writ­ing of any kind.”

Slack lets premium sub­scribers set cus­tom re­ten­tion pe­ri­ods for chat records so they self- destruct af­ter a cer­tain amount of time. (For non­pay­ing sub­scribers, the mes­sages stay on Slack’s servers in­def­i­nitely, al­though you can man­u­ally get rid of them when­ever you want.) “This dele­tion is per­ma­nent, and the mes­sages and files are ir­re­triev­able,” Slack’s help page warns in bold letters. But that shouldn’t change chat­ters’ be­hav­ior. Lawyers em­ploy an army of peo­ple to find in­for­ma­tion. Plus, you never know when a suit will be filed; com­pa­nies have an obli­ga­tion to halt stan­dard de­struc­tion poli­cies once a claim is made.

Of course, we all know that we’re not sup­posed to doc­u­ment dumb, mean, big­oted, or crude ideas. But even in reg­u­lated in­dus­tries such as Wall Street, where dig­i­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Slack chats, are ex­plic­itly saved and mon­i­tored, peo­ple con­tinue to put the wrong things in writ­ing. In one case, a one-word chat (“awe­some!”) ef­fec­tively re­vised an ex­ist­ing contract, cost­ing an e-cig­a­rette maker $1.2 mil­lion.

In a court­room set­ting, chats, how­ever tongue-in-cheek they may be, could color how the jury judges the case. “It’s un­der­stand­able that peo­ple will use th­ese plat­forms for casual con­ver­sa­tion,” Han­swirth says. “But some­times it’s hard to ex­plain to [a jury] that you re­ally were not be­ing se­ri­ous.” <BW>

“For years I trav­eled with our CEO, John Rogers, ev­ery­where he

went. I was pseudo chief of staff. He would

hand me things off his desk and say,

‘Do it, fix it.’ The as­sign­ments got more im­por­tant over time.”

“Diane Sawyer read an ar­ti­cle about me and called. I was in shock.

She rec­og­nized that we don’t have African Amer­i­can women

talk­ing about money, and she was my ad­vo­cate at ABC.” “I got re­ally good grades and did the ex­tra credit. I was that kid. I wanted to be a tele­vi­sion an­chor.” “We met at the Forstmann Lit­tle Con­fer­ence in Aspen.

I told him I was on the Dream­works board, and we chat­ted about the movie busi­ness. The next year he said he was com­ing to Chicago to give a speech and would I be in town? I said I’d love to have din­ner.”

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